Saturday, July 30, 2022

Burt Metcalfe


Fans of MASH will recognize the name Burt Metcalfe.  Starting as Associate Producer when the series began he graduated to showrunner by season 6 and was the only producer to stay with the series for the entire eleven years.  

Burt also directed 31 episodes of MASH and had a few writing credits as well.

Oh.. and he was the best boss I ever worked for.  More like a father figure, role model, and mentor.  

Burt Metcalfe passed away on Wednesday.  He was 87.  

For anyone that knew him, this is a crushing loss.  

It was Burt who hired me and David Isaacs to join the staff of MASH for season six, thus giving us the break of our career.  When the head writer left in middle of the season, Burt saw enough potential in us to elevate us to that position.  We were still in our 20’s.  That’s the kind of support and confidence he provided.  We succeeded in the role to a large degree because Burt was there to back us up.  

Although he tended to stay in the background, MASH remained a consistently  great show because of Burt Metcalfe.  The humanity and sensibility of MASH — those were reflections of Burt himself.  That’s who he was.  And the fact that 128,000,000 people watched the finale is a tribute to how well he guided the show for all eleven years.  

When I am asked why we did AfterMASH, a big reason was the chance to work with Burt again.  You just don’t meet wonderful quality people like that very often — especially in this industry.  I would have happily signed aboard for After-AfterMASH if Burt were running it.  

Burt will be greatly missed.  I treasure those lunches I had with him and Gene Reynolds at Musso & Frank’s. If there is one thing I can take comfort in, it’s that I know his name and the extraordinary work he did will be seen and appreciated for 50 maybe 100 more years.  

Thank you, Burt.  Thank you for everything.

Goodbye, farewell, and amen. 

25 comments :

Unknown said...

What a beautiful loving tribute to your wonderful super talented friend














Roger Owen Green said...

He seemed to have been a great boss. One is not always that lucky.
My condolences.

N. Zakharenko said...

Not to forget 10 years as an actor including:
3 Perry Masons
Lord Byron in the movie Gidget.

Then Casting Director for 6 episodes of Bewitched & the first 15 episodes of Here Come The Brides.

A role in the James Bond movie "Diamonds Are Forever"

And if Anna and The King (which Gene Reynolds & he -amongst others- launched the same time as MASH) had been a hit, his career may have taken a different course.

Mark Murphy said...

I once saw an interview with James Lydon in which he seemed to say that he was a mentor of sorts to Mr. Metcalfe when he joined MASH.

Mr. Lydon himself, of course, had been an actor (and a good one too) and, like Mr. Metcalfe, had decided to switch from acting to production work.

As an actor, Mr. Lydon was probably most famous as the star of the Henry Aldrich movies. Someone I know is a big fan of them and told me that once, when a friend of his met Mr. Lydon, he told him that my friend had seen all the Aldrich movies.

"Oh, that poor man," Mr. Lydon replied.

Ken, did you ever work with or know Mr. Lydon?

Janet said...

So so sorry, Ken, and all of the condolences we can muster.

We've lost David Warner, Paul Sorvino and Tony Dow this last week. And make no mistake: all huge losses.

But I perhaps FELT it the hardest when I heard about Burt Metcalfe. To me, it's just one more painful page of the best years of Hollywood folding into history...

maxdebryn said...

We also lost British actor Bernard Cribbins. My condolences on the passing of Burt Metcalfe, Ken.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

This has certainly not been a good year; we have been losing so many wonderful people, it's incredibly sad.

Michael said...

And he was married to Nurse Baker!

I always say that name in the credits. Now, when I watch the credits, I think of all of the stories that Ken has told us about them.

Marsha said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Ken. May his memory be for a blessing.

Jon Weisman said...

I'm genuinely sorry for this loss to all of us fans and to you personally. There's no doubt that even as a kid, I noticed his appearances on every MASH credit. And he sounds like a wonderful person. All my best to his friends and family.

Andrew said...

Lovely remembrance.

whynot said...

Condolences on the loss of your boss and more importantly friend. And he is loving the last line of your tribute.

Pete Grossman said...

When watching M*A*S*H as it ran on network TV and in syndication, I always noticed your close colleague's name and asked, who is this guy? He's on every credit! Thank you for imparting who he was and who he was to you. Your words express that indeed his memory will be a blessing.

Karen Hall said...

Thank you for writing that. He was indeed a great boss and he was a class act. And he did indeed take chances on youngsters. I was 23 when he hired me. I always think about him when I have to run a show or a room. He was SUCH a calm presence in the middle of all of the hysteria. I've always tried to channel that. He set a terrific example for the rest of us. I have not seen him in years, but the world is a lesser place without him in it.

Cheryl Marks said...

So sorry for your loss

Anonymous said...

Rest in Peace to a brilliant man who helped create the finest show ever to air on TV.

Anonymous said...

So sorry Ken. He invited us to dinner many years ago and was so gracious. So talented, too. He seemed devoted to paying it forward. May he Rest In Peace 💜

Lee Goldberg said...

That was a beautiful tribute. I'm sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Oh I wished I had gotten to work with him too and known him. Thank you Ken for sharing such beautiful memories of him with us. May you Rest In Peace Bert 💜

Alan said...

He was one of the nicest men and best producers I ever worked with. They don't make them like Burt anymore. RIP Burt.

VincentS said...

What a great loss.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful tribute!

Kirk said...

Nice tribute to a man whose name I've seen in every episode of MASH.

Daniel said...

POSSIBLE FRIDAY QUESTION: You mentioned that Burt Metcalfe was the showrunner of MASH, but that you and David Isaacs were the head writers. Maybe I was being naive all this time, but I had (apparently erroneously) assumed that, on a TV series, the showrunner and the head writer were one in the same. Can you break down what the differences in the roles are? And are there some showrunners who are also the head writer? Or are they two completely different disciplines?

Paul Duca said...

And Pat Carroll...